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Amherst College Courses

Amherst College Courses

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Film and Media Studies

Professors Hastie and Van Compernolle; Associate Professor Rangan (Chair); Assistant Professors Guilford and Levine; Assistant Professors Drummer and Sanders.

Contributing Faculty: Professors Brenneis, Couvares, Drabinski, Engelhardt, Gewertz, Kimball, Lembo, Parham, Rogowski, Sarat, Schroeder Rodriguez, and Woodson; Associate Professors Gilpin, Kunichika, Robinson, Shandilya, and Wolfson.

The Film and Media Studies Program situates the study and practice of the moving image in its aesthetic, technical, and socio-cultural dimensions within a wider history of media. The program integrates formal, historical and theoretical analysis with various forms of creative and production experience in its required core courses. In courses in Critical Studies and Production, we explore the practice of constructing moving images through considerations of narrative, non-narrative and experimental structures, camera motion, editing techniques, music and sound design, mise-en-scène, and digital technologies. The dual emphasis on critical and creative practices allow the historical, theoretical, compositional, and aesthetic issues to illuminate each other and thus to allow students to engage with both the depth and breadth of media production and analysis. The program interfaces with a variety of disciplines across the Liberal Arts spectrum, such as philosophy, social and literary theory, area studies, language study, visual culture, theater and dance, anthropology, computer science, and gender studies.

Major Program. The Film and Media Studies (FAMS) major requires four core courses, a minimum of four additional courses (FAMS electives) that reflect each student’s individual academic and creative interests, one-two 400-level seminars (see below) and a Capstone project. The FAMS program grants wide scope to students for creating an individualized program of study in consultation with their advisor in the major, but it is anchored by two foundations courses in Critical Media Studies (e.g. "Coming to Terms: Cinema," "Coming to Terms: Media," "Knowing Cinema," and "Knowing Television"), one foundations course in Production (a 200-level production course), and one 410-level course in Integrated Media Practices. Foundations courses in Critical Media Studies and Production will serve as the prerequisites for the Foundations in Integrated Media Practices, which FAMS majors should ideally complete by the end of their junior year. Majors will also be required to take at least one 400-level FAMS course in their junior or senior year. In addition, students will take at least four other courses as electives. For the Capstone Requirement, students will either produce a two-semester thesis or will take at least one additional 400-level FAMS course, and all seniors will complete a comprehensive exam in the form of a symposium in the Spring semester of their senior year.

*On leave 2023-24. 

108 True Crime: Unlearning Media

(See ENGL 108)

110 Film and Writing

(See ENGL 180)

210 Coming to Terms: Cinema

(See ENGL 280)

211 Introduction to Film Histories

(See ENGL 281)

213 Knowing Cinema

Since its origin in the late nineteenth century, cinema has had a powerful impact on our ways of visualizing and knowing the world. This course will help students understand how films work and work on us and introduce students to the wide-ranging efforts of theorists to know cinema since its beginnings. Our emphasis will be on narrative film, but we will also explore experimental, documentary, and animated works. We will examine a wide range of films from many parts of the world. Through exposure to the great variety of filmmaking and writing about cinema, from the silent era to the digital revolution, students will receive a comprehensive introduction to the formal features of film and to the major debates that inform film studies. Two eighty-minute class meetings and one evening film screening per week.

Other years: Offered in Spring 2024

216 Coming to Terms: Media

(See ENGL 284)

221 Foundations in Video Production

(See ARHA 221)

305 Identity and Ideology: The Cinema of Moscow, Berlin, and Hollywood

(See RUSS 245)

309 Writing Together: Film and Feminist Collectivity

(See ENGL 385)

311 Art + Code

(See ARHA 278)

318 Sound Art

(See ARHA 292)

321 Gender and Bollywood Cinema

(See SWAG 321)

324 New Latin American Documentary

(See SPAN 335)

334 Listening to Podcasts

(See ENGL 260)

335 Experiments in 16mm Film

(See ARHA 335)

352 Russia and the Representation of Race

(See RUSS 252)

375 Jazz Film: Improvisation, Narrativity, and Representation

(See MUSI 225)

376 Islam through Media: Past, Present, Representation

(See RELI 183)

384 Making Memorials

(See GERM 365)

385 Television Detection

(See ENGL 380)

389 Race, Place, Research

(See GERM 260)

416 Sound and the Moving Image

(See ARHA 416)

425 Post-WWII American Cinema

(See ENGL 487)

441 Documentary Production

(See ARHA 441)

490 Special Topics

Independent reading course.

Fall and spring semester. The Department.

Other years: Offered in Fall 2011, Spring 2012, Fall 2012, Spring 2013, Fall 2013, Spring 2014, Fall 2014, Spring 2015, Fall 2015, Spring 2016, Fall 2016, Spring 2017, Fall 2017, Spring 2018, Fall 2018, Spring 2019, Fall 2019, Spring 2020, Fall 2020, Spring 2021, Fall 2021, Spring 2022, Fall 2022, Spring 2023, Fall 2023, Spring 2024, Fall 2024

498, 499 Senior Honors

Admission with consent of the instructor. Spring semester. The Department.

Other years: Offered in Spring 2012, Spring 2013, Spring 2014, Spring 2015, Spring 2016, Spring 2017, Spring 2018, Spring 2019, Spring 2020, Spring 2021, Spring 2022, Spring 2023, Spring 2024

Arts of Theater & Dance Courses

332 Impulse/Imagination/Invention: Experiments Across Media

(See THDA 254)